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CLINICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM
A Clinical Information System (CIS) is a computer based system
that is designed for collecting, storing, manipulating and making available
clinical information important to the healthcare delivery process.
Clinical Information Systems may be limited in extent to a single area (e.g. laboratory
systems, ECG management systems) or they may be more widespread and include
virtually all aspects of clinical information (e.g. electronic
Clinical Information Systems provide a clinical data repository that stores clinical
data such as the patient’s history of illness and the interactions with care
providers. The repository encodes information capable of helping physicians
decide about the patient’s condition, treatment options, and wellness
activities as well as the status of decisions, actions undertaken and other
relevant information that could help in performing those actions.
Some of the areas addressed by Clinical Information Systems are:
Decision Support: This provides users with the tools to acquire,
manipulate, apply and display appropriate information to aid in the making of
correct, timely and evidence-based clinical decisions.
Medical Records (EMRs): this contains information about the patient,
from their personal details, such as their name, age, address and sex to
details of every aspect of care given by the hospital (from routine visits to
- Training and Research: Patient
information can be made available to physicians for the purpose of training and
research. Data mining of the information stored in databases could provide
insights into disease states and how best to manage them.
For years, research has been done to show the value of
Clinical Information Systems, and these have highlighted not just the benefits
but also the barriers that might be faced by hospitals who implement such
Some of the benefits are:
- Easy Access to Patient Data: Clinical Information Systems can
provide convenient access to medical records at all points of care. This is
especially beneficial at ambulatory points, hence enhancing continuity of care.
Internet-based access improves the ability to remotely access such data.
- Structured Information: The clinical
information captured in Clinical Information Systems is well organised, thus making I easier to maintain
and quicker to search through for relevant information. The information is also
legible, making it less likely that mistakes would be made due to illegible
- Improved Drug Prescription and Patient
Safety: Clinical Information Systems improve drug dosing and this leads to the reduction of adverse drug
interactions while promoting more appropriate pharmaceutical utilisation.
Despite the benefits being offered
by Clinical Information Systems, they are not without the barriers that prevent them from being rolled
out in every hospital. These include some of the following:
- Initial cost of acquisition: the high
cost of basic infrastructure of clinical information technology can be a
stumbling block to many healthcare organisations.
- Privacy and Security: There are still
huge concerns in the healthcare industry about the privacy of patient data on
computer systems and how to keep such information secure. The
HIPAA and Data
Protection Act passed by respective governments in the US and the UK
were introduced to address some of these concerns.
- Clinician Resistance: Clinicians usually
have 10-20 minutes to see their patients and if their interactions with a CIS
during these sessions proves to be counterintuitive by taking up more time than
is necessary, there is bound to resistance to it use.
- Integration of Legacy Systems: This
poses a stiff challenge to many organisations.